The supplement that could help you sleep an extra hour a night
The claim: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish--notably DHA--have been linked to all kinds of mellowing health benefits: They reduce arterial plaque, lower triglycerides, and help shield you from heart disease. And now new research shows they might also affect the quality of your zzz's.
The research: Though studies on sleep and omega-3s are scarce, some have shown that higher levels of omega-3s are associated with fewer sleep problems in children and adults. DHA has also been linked to reduced severity of sleep apnea.
In this latest study from Oxford University, researchers studied the effect of daily 600 mg DHA omega-3 supplementation (or placebo supplementation) in a sample of 395 children ages 7 to 9. After about four months of popping either fish oil pills or placebos, children who took omega-3s slept nearly an hour longer each night, with fewer disturbances.
What it means: This is what study author Paul Montgomery, professor of psycho-social intervention at University of Oxford, thinks is going on: DHA helps release melatonin, that elusive hormone that gets you to sleep. "In turn, that helped with the onset of sleep and the stabilization of it," he says. Melatonin levels change throughout the lifecycle, but omega-3s appear to help normalize that shift.